A striking four-part interactive film installation featuring actors Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) and conceived by commercials and music director Toby Dye is the centerpiece of a major new exhibition of work inspired by Stanley Kubrick, which opens in London this week.
The immersive film, Corridor, features four interweaving narratives—each featuring an identical corridor in which a character inspired by one of Kubrick’s films acts and interacts within their own personal journey.
In one, for example, a six-year-old girl appears at first to be innocently watering flowers. In another, a contemporary everyman in search of answers grows increasingly angry and frustrated. The third features a thuggish brute. An 18th-century lady’s self-control starts to crumble in the final film.
Comprised of four separate films, each—shot as a four-and-a-half minute Kubrick-inspired tracking shot—will be projected onto an entire wall inside a room within London’s Somerset House to present the audience with four different stories that play out simultaneously. However, at carefully choreographed points in the action of each, different characters from different films intersect.
There is no speaking.
Instead the action plays out to "Lonely Souls" featuring Richard Ashcroft—a track off the 1998 album Psyence Friction by Unkle—a collaboration between DJ Shadow and James Lavelle, musician, artist, and cofounder of record label Mo' Wax.
At the time of Psyence Friction’s release, Lavelle approached Kubrick to direct a video for "Lonely Souls." Kubrick agreed, but died before he was able to do so. More recently Lavelle was given permission by Kubrick’s estate to curate this exhibition of art inspired by the filmmaker’s work
"All four stories are different riffs on regular Kubrick themes: the folly of power, man’s obsession with it, and how it corrupts. The inspiration for the style—the continuous zoom—was straight out of Barry Lyndon," Dye explains.
"There’s many ways to interpret the films, but the characters are essentially lost in an endless journey. What I hope we have achieved though is a film that, while it will take multiple viewings to get the whole story, can just as easily be enjoyed in only a couple of minutes."
Corridor was cowritten by John Allison and Chris Bovill, joint heads of Channel 4’s in-house creative agency 4Creative. "The aim was to dramatize the endless cycle of power," Allison explains. "But the focus throughout was on ensuring the narratives’ references were subtle and nuanced rather than fanboy homage."
As a piece of public art, funding for the project was shoestring and production dependent on favors and collaborations, which also involved Ridley Scott Associates/Black Dog, through which Dye works, and Moving Picture Company for postproduction.
Money wasn’t the only challenge, however.
"Each film on each screen was shot as a single take, then the start of each had to be digitally stitched to its end to form a loop," Dye reveals. "Not only was that in itself technically complex—each narrative has its own audio, for example, so we had to ensure while each was distinctive none detracted or distracted from any other."
It was logistically challenging to find somewhere with a long enough corridor for the shoot, too—a corridor that would take four and a half minutes to move down. But after a month-long search, the production team found the ideal place—a mothballed pharmaceuticals factory in the east London suburb of Dagenham.
The exhibition, Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick, opens July 6 and features the work of artists including Sarah Lucas, Mat Collishaw, Doug Aitken, political artist Peter Kennard, and conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth. It is supported by artist Kristiane Kubrick, the late director’s wife.
Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick runs July 6 through August 24 at Somerset House, London.